Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Home Range Size and Attributes for Badgers (Taxidea Taxus Jeffersonii) in South-Central British Columbia, Canada

Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Home Range Size and Attributes for Badgers (Taxidea Taxus Jeffersonii) in South-Central British Columbia, Canada

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.-

In Canada, the jeffersonii subspecies of the North American badger, Taxidea taxus, is found only within the southern portion of the province of British Columbia. The subspecies is considered endangered and small populations are believed to be the result of a loss of grassland habitat along the valley bottoms; despite this, knowledge of the basic ecology of the animal is limited. We used radio-telemetry to document the size, configuration and attributes of home ranges of the animal living in south-central British Columbia. Home range size was particularly large ..., and individuals were capable of moving greater distances than has been reported outside the province .... Even though our sample size was small and heavily biased towards males, we found that the animals did not use their home ranges uniformly, and there was considerable variation in the patterns of use between individuals. We therefore argue that an important first step in understanding the basic ecology of these animals is to recognize the high degree of individual variation in landscape use.

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INTRODUCTION

The size, shape and location of animal home ranges are some of the measurements most frequently used to study the ecology of individuals as well as populations. These measurements are well justified, as home ranges generally encompass the resources that animals need for feeding, mating and rearing offspring (Burt, 1943). However, animals that maintain home ranges typically do not use them uniformly because of the heterogeneity of resource distribution. Sites with resources are important to an animal and, therefore, visited more often than other parts of a home range (Hayne, 1949). For example, denning or nesting sites, patches of dependable food resources and mating grounds are focal features within a home range that may be frequented (Springer, 1982; Litvaitis et al, 1986; Samuel and Green, 1988; Marzluff et al, 1997; Pechacek et al, 2000) . Some knowledge of the relative intensity of use within a home range can help to identify the source and location of resources important for an animal (Hayne, 1949). Delineating those core areas that are used relatively more in an animal's home range (Burt, 1943; Ford, 1983) can also help to establish priorities for conservation.

In Canada, badgers ( Taxidea taxus) occur at the northern periphery of the species' range distribution. The jeffersonii subspecies is restricted to a small area of the western-most province of British Columbia. With less than 350 animals thought to exist in the province, the subspecies is considered endangered within Canada (jeffersonii Badger Recovery Team, 2005; Newhouse and Kinley, 1999). The range of the animal is tied closely to the narrow bands of arid grassland that extend north from the USA border into southern British Columbia along the bottom of river valleys. Although die ecology of these animals is not well understood, the loss of grassland habitat (due to human development and transportation corridors) generally has been considered a leading cause in the decline of populations (Rahme et al, 1995). Despite this, habitat conservation for these animals lacks direction because their specific use of the landscape remains unknown.

Research in the United States has shown that home range size varies throughout badger distribution, and is correlated with prey density, female availability and habitat attributes (Lindzey, 1978; Messick and Hornocker, 1981; Minta, 1993). Badgers also are known to show restricted movement patterns in winter, likely near reliable patches of prey (Messick, 1987). For all these reasons, one would predict that home ranges contain one or more core areas. The development of conservation strategies for this animal will be aided by improving our knowledge of the spatial ecology of badgers in this region, and identifying areas and resources that are used more frequently.

Our objective in this paper is to describe the home ranges used by badgers in one area of their range within British Columbia. …

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